We have done numerous articles about skylights, here is another. These building features can be an asset to firefighters assigned to the roof as a means for quick ventilation. Their location, many times above the interior stairs, makes them an ideal vertical ventilation location. Relieving the interior stairs of smoke will help civilians evacuate, possibly increase visibility for the forcible entry team, and allow the engine to stretch to the proper location a little easier.
Conversely, skylights can be dangerous to an unknowing firefighter, especially on a smokey roof. Leaking skylights are many times replaced by removing the skylight and roofing over the area that was once the skylight. If you are lucky this area of the roof will be raised and it will be obvious that this situation exists. If not, the skylight can be covered over flush with the rest of the roof, increasing the danger.
The quality of this patch job is where our concern lies. If this area is properly framed out, covered with plywood, and then roofed over we are in pretty good shape. Often these openings are covered with only a thin piece of plywood with no framing underneath and then covered with roofing material. As you can see in this photo the once skylight has been framed out with 2×4" and then covered with plywood and rolled roofing.
- Be cautious of any area that appears to have been patched
Any patched area can be hazardous, not only roofed over skylights. Patches normally indicate an area that was leaking. The roof surface has been repaired to stop the leak but the water damage to the structural components beneath can not be seen.
- Avoid walking across roofed over skylights
- If you can't see, crawl
- Cross from building to building in the front
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